So, moving right along...
After finding the Macca's I started wandering up the main pedestrian thoroughfare in old Harbin. It's a city with ties to Mother Russia, as you may pick up on from some of my photos. During the day, it's nice, and you can read the plaques on the buildings (some of them beginning to crack with disrepair) to see who lived there, or what kind of building it was. At night, it's pure magic, especially with the ice sculptures all lit up, like they are above. That first night I was wandering with my camera, trying to take shots of fireworks, and I figured up to the river was the place to go. I slid my way up the street...and I DO mean slipped. I wanted to see if I actually needed my crampons before I put them on. I did. It was nerve-wracking. I've fallen on my butt lots of times, but the expensive and shiny new camera around my neck might not be as durable as I am. When I got up to the Flood Control monument there were people there SELLING SKY LANTERNS!!!!! I've been obsessed with the dang things since watching Tangled and finding out they were real, and I finally got the chance to set one off. Of course, being an idiot foreigner I had no idea what I was doing, but this sweet kid was kind enough to help me out, and we had a moment when it went soaring off where we high-fived and I said, "Hen hao! Xie xie!" and she said, "Bu ke xie!" and I said, "Xin nian kuai le!" and she said, "Happy New Year!" Some things are awesome in any language.
I've got to say, I needed this break like a caffeine addict needs her coke. It was good to get away, even if I'm REALLY tired today, but even more, I needed the chance to get out alone and prove myself against a new city...I haven't done that since last summer. Seeing new things is fun, but the real thrill is proving to yourself that you are clever and observant enough to cope when you're by yourself.
I live for that shit.